It’s a hardware renaissance, says PCH CEO Liam Casey (video)

6 Nov 2014

Liam Casey, CEO, PCH International

PCH International CEO and founder Liam Casey said the quality and passion of the teams in the first Hardware Hackathon in Dublin in September were the inspiration behind this week’s successful event.

He said the timing of the Web Summit in the Irish capital and the fact both Dublin City University (DCU) and the National College of Art and Design (NCAD) in Dublin were on board was also a factor.

“The fact we could add design was just huge.”

First prize from Monday night’s Hackathon went to Cash Up, which developed and prototyped a connected cash register for automated cash management. The team was awarded a €1,500 fund – sponsored by PCH International and consulting from Each&Other – for the continuing development of its product.

Working across the entire technology spectrum, PCH International completes the design and delivery of products that include Beats, Apple and many other household brand names.

PCH International has revenues of more than US$1bn a year and masterminds the design, manufacture and distribution of hardware, from the initial online order to the delivery at the customer’s door, anywhere in the world. The company employs 2,800 people worldwide, including 80 people in Cork, where PCH International is headquartered.

Prototyping reveals the moment of truth

Hardware Hackathon: interview with Liam Casey, CEO and founder, PCH International

Hardware Hackathon: Interview with Liam Casey, CEO and founder, PCH International

Casey said there is a revolution happening in terms of hardware start-ups, which is being driven by a renaissance of prototyping due to the availability of 3D printers and other tools.

“Prototyping is where you get inspiration. That’s the moment of truth.

“There is a renaissance in prototyping for sure around the world. That renaissance is driving a renaissance in hardware and probably will in manufacturing.

“The fact that people can come here and share their ideas, make physical products and do it all within the course of three days is huge.”

Casey said the purpose of the Hackathon was primarily to unleash the creativity he knows exists in Ireland but also from a business perspective to enable PCH International to spot potential talent.

“We’re always looking and we’re definitely seeing trends that will bring us closer to opportunities. We are seeing great opportunities in medical devices.

“It’s down to the quality of the talent, that’s the first step. We are always looking for potential teams to go into our Highway 1 programme and help them to scale.”

Casey said the ecosystem for start-ups to engage in the hardware renaissance is beginning to fall into place.

“The fact that TechShop is coming to Dublin is great. Anything that brings forward the pace of making the prototypes, that’s the moment of truth.

“That’s the magic and that’s where people get excited and that is the moment entrepreneurs really start to believe. That’s when the excitement starts.”

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years